I write (although I wouldn’t consider myself a writer). I am supposed to write a good deal. Many of my projects are large. I am not a linear writer. In other words, I don’t start at the beginning and just keep going until I get to the end (and then edit, edit, edit). Instead, I visualize the entire project and see an outline or skeleton. As I find resources, material, quotes, literature and even websites that I need to include, I try to place them on an appropriate “hook” in the outline in my mind. This can get crazy. Especially if you are juggling several projects. So, I went on a search. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have an exceptional wordprocessor (Mellel, which, by the way, has a new update. Get it!) and I use InDesign for extensive design and layout work. But, that doesn’t help me when I am organizing thoughts and working on various parts of a project (typically out of linear order). So, the search eventually led me to an amazing application which is the subject of this post: Scrivener.
What is a scrivener?
But what is Scrivener?
Ah, I’m glad you asked! It is one of the most amazing programs for writers that exists. I have been trying it out for a bit now and I am ready to say that at $39.95 you should just go ahead and buy it. But, as Levar Burton would say, “You don’t have to take my word for it”… so you should try it for free for 30 days. Then if it isn’t what you want, the lovely people (all two of them) at Literature&Latte (can you think of a more wonderful name?) will give you advice and links to help you find something better suited to what you might want to do. Wow.
I like to buy my food locally. I like to encourage small, local businesses. This is a small business with a global scope. Just read their “About Us” page and you will wish you could meet this UK duo. They are based in Truro in Cornwall, England. Need I say more? OK, OK, I guess I do.
Take a look at the features on the website’s summary page (I couldn’t do a better job). I will emphasize one aspect that is exceedingly helpful. Keeping relevant research visible while writing is always a struggle when you have digital forms of the research. With Scrivener, you don’t need to keep switching between programs and screen views. Everything can be visible at the same time (oh joy). As their website says:
No more switching between multiple applications to refer to research files: keep all of your research – image files, PDF documents, movies, sound files and web pages – right inside Scrivener. And unlike in other programs that only let you see one document in a window at a time, in Scrivener you can view a research document in one pane and compose your text in another right alongside it. Transcribe an interview, make notes about a picture, or just refer back to another chapter, all from within the same program.
You see, that is really amazing. On my computer I have folders and subfolders and subfolders organizing articles and other literature that I will eventually need to use. But, short of using the Apple Spotlight function, it is hit or miss if I will find what I want. Or if I even remember that I have saved something that I want to find again! With Scrivener, as soon as I find something I want to use I can plunk it down in the section where I will want to reference it. Then later I can go back to write and find all the research that I had been accumulating. At that point I can cull and use only what is truly appropriate.
There is one caveat. Actually, a big one. Scrivener only works on a Mac. But, you should be using a Mac anyway!!
So, please check it out and let me know what you think. If you decide to use it, what functions are most useful to you? What kind of writing will you use the application for?